It's a milestone for the New York State Thruway as they celebrate how they changed how we travel 70 years ago this week.

If you have ever had to drive south of the Hudson Valley to New York City or north towards Albany and tried to get to your destination as quickly as possible the "traffic gods" say that taking the New York State Thruway is probably your best option. That is of course if you don't mind having to pay a toll to use the highway!

New York State Thruway Anniversary
New York State Thruway

New York State Thruway Anniversary

Back in the early 1950s drivers didn't always have the thruway option like we do today but thankfully that changed 70 years ago this week. On June 24, 1954, drivers lined up for hours at 13 toll booths along the route to be the first to drive on the first tolled section of the New York State Thruway when a 115-mile stretch of I-90 between Lowell (West of exit 32) and Rochester (exit 46) opened.

Thruway Authority Executive Director Frank G. Hoare, Esq announced the anniversary in a press release saying,

“This year the Thruway marks 70 years of service in New York State, connecting communities, tourist destinations and bolstering the economy with a modern transportation system. New Yorkers were proud of the enormous accomplishment at the time the Thruway opened in 1954, and we continue that tradition of safety, service and reliability today and for decades to come."


A New York State Thruway/I-87 road sign.
Jackie Corley, Townsquare Media of the Hudson Valley

Thruway Opens to Fanfare

When the thruway prepared to open on the morning of June 24, 1954, New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey attended ribbon cuttings and celebrations along the route just west of Utica to Rochester at exit 46. At 10 p.m. that night in Rochester hotel, Gov. Dewey pushed a button and buzzers sounded at every toll booth between West Henrietta and Lowell with every toll collector hearing the Governor’s proclaiming the road open to traffic. Minutes later, the first Thruway tolls were collected.

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The second major opening on the thruway happened on August 26, 1954, when the section of the Thruway from Rochester to Buffalo opened, followed by the stretch from Utica to Newburgh on October 26, and the 15-mile section from Newburgh to Harriman on December 22. During its first year of operation over 8,700,000 trips were made by motorists with mileage totaling 522,000,000.

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